Pharmacy services in rural areas: Is the problem geographic access or financial access?

Michelle M. Casey, Jill Klingner, Ira Moscovice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Access to pharmacy services is an important rural health policy issue but limited research has been conducted on it. This article describes rural retail pharmacies in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, including their organizational characteristics, staffing, services provided, and planned future changes; examines the availability of pharmacy services and pharmacy closures in rural areas of these three states; and briefly discusses policy issues that affect the delivery of pharmacy services in rural areas. Study data came from a phone survey of 537 rural pharmacies, an analysis of pharmacy licensure data, and phone interviews with clinic, public health, and social services staff in rural communities with potential pharmacy access problems. Using a standard of 20 miles to the nearest pharmacy, most rural residents of these three states currently have adequate geographic access to pharmacy services. However, rural pharmacists and clinic, public health, and social services staff rate financial access to pharmacy services for the elderly and the uninsured as a major problem. Key policy issues that will affect future access to pharmacy services in rural areas include pharmacy staffing and relief coverage; alternative methods of providing pharmacy services; the financial viability of rural pharmacies; and the potential impact of a Medicare prescription benefit on rural consumers and rural pharmacies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


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